Yajaira Suárez, PhD

Medicine (Cardiology) - Primary Mentor

Dr. Suárez studies the contribution of endothelial microRNAs to the regulation of endothelial cell functions. Her major focus involves studying the role of VEGF and TNF-regulated microRNAs on endothelial cell responses, since these cytokines have the vascular endothelium as a major target of their actions and they are fundamental for the control of angiogenic and inflammatory responses, respectively. Several pathophysiological conditions like atherosclerosis, cancer (tumor growth) and wound healing, among others, are linked to these responses. Identification of specifics targets and functions for VEGF and TNF-regulated microRNAs, together with the ability of microRNAs to affect multiple downstream effectors might prove to be an advantage for microRNA-based therapeutic strategies. In addition, she is interested in identifying the molecular mechanisms whereby these cytokines regulate the biogenesis and activity of endothelial microRNAs. Such knowledge will not only expand our understanding of how miRNAs are altered in response to these cytokines but will present exciting opportunities for screening of compounds to manipulate aspects of the miRNA machinery for therapeutic application. To this end, we are utilizing different approaches combining molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, together with genetically modified mouse models.